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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MONTANA WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – ROMANTIC OUTTAKES FROM MONTANA BRIDE FASHION EDITORIAL

I love the romance of these outtakes from my recent shoot for Montana Bride magazine, and I especially love seeing them in this classic black and white film look.  Our models did such a great job posing for us in a very romantic way that still looks like fashion.  This shoot was very inspiring to see the talent that we could assemble in Billings Montana.  We had such a great team!  More from this shoot coming soon!  See previous photos from this shoot here and here (http://blog.paulbellinger.com/2015/01/montana-wedding-photographer-fashion.html).

Photographer: Paul Bellinger
Styling: Katalin Green
Hair and makeup: Sydney Ross
Models: Arley Knerr and Braydon Sinclair
Dress: ti adora by Alvina Valenta
Hairpiece: Paris by Debra Moreland
Bowtie: Hitched Bowties
Suspenders: Jess Leather
Wedding band: Montague’s Jewelers 
Men’s Clothing: Jim’s Formal Wear
Stylist assistant: Brett Conner
Photo assistant: Zak Jokela
Location: Billings Open Studio

Tips for Brides:
I’ve got print copies of this year’s Montana Bride magazine!  This issue features our photos in a fashion editorial, one real Paul Bellinger Photography wedding in the Beartooth mountains, and our double page ad featuring wedding artwork from Kristen and Jake’s Red Lodge romance.  Get your copy and see all that Montana has to offer! Follow Montana Bride on facebook to find out where you can get copies in your city.

Tips for photographers:
These photos are lit with natural light from a large bank of windows about 20 feet from the models out of frame to the right.  There are also two large 4x8’ reflector out of frame to the camera left bouncing a lot of the window light back on to the shadow side of the models.  The windows at Billings Open Studio are North facing, so the light is always indirect and beautifully soft.  Bounce it back with a huge reflector and you’ve got some super soft light with a hint of directionality from the windows.  I have the same kind of light in my own studio and I love it.  In fact, North facing windows have been revered by generations of artists, painters, sculptors, and photographers for centuries.

For more Montana wedding artwork and to book Paul for your wedding visit http://www.paulbellinger.com

For Billings Montana portraits, headshots and fashion editorials visit http://www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

It would be our honor to photograph you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

BILLINGS MT PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER – HEADSHOTS FOR DAME AGENCY

We are a full service portrait studio in Billings Montana and we especially love making corporate headshots for business professionals and portfolio headshots for models, musicians, actors and other creatives.  DAME Agency is a new modeling agency in town and I did a test shoot with some of their talented models.  Featured here is Jessica and Tylan, both are currently available for modeling and acting gigs in Billings Montana and beyond.  Jess’s career is taking off quickly and I’m sure she’ll be relocating to a major modeling market before too long.  I look forward to working with DAME Agency again soon.

Tips for photographers: Can you see the light?  The main light is a fairly hard light source judging from the shadow cast by the models’ noses, but it’s not as hard as direct day light.  It’s a 22 inch beauty dish with a diffusion sock on it that is about 4 feet from the models.  You can judge the location of the beauty dish by the catchlights in their eyes and the nose shadows.  What other lights do you see?  Notice how even in the darkest shadows on the camera right side of the frame are clearly separated from the background.  That’s created by a second light on the background, a smaller beauty dish placed up above the models’ heads pointed onto the background to create the vignette that you see.  A very tiny bit of this light is catches the top of their hair (see the top of Jessica’s hand), creating a nice hairlight.  Lastly, you can still see details on the shadow side of Tylan’s face, and that is because there is a white reflector out of the frame to the camera right that is bouncing the main light back into the shadow areas, filling in those shadows with a very soft light (hence the common phrase “fill light”).

Billings Montana portrait Photographer Paul Bellinger, specializing in modern, stylish portraits from corporate headshots to fashion editorials.  We take the classic art of portraiture seriously because we have a passion for portraits that you won’t find anywhere else in Billings Montana.  http://www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BILLINGS MT PHOTOGRAPHER – BANDRA NIGHTS!

I have some very cool family in Mumbai!  This is the view from the roof of my aunt and uncle’s home in Bandra, which is a suburb that has been described to me as the Tribeca of Mumbai.  Well it’s also kind of the Beverly Hills of Mumbai because some of Bollywood’s leading movie stars live on the famous Bandstand road featured in these photos.  It’s interesting to note that according to my uncle, the fishing village in the foreground of the top photo is older than the city around it.  As a result, the fishing village has land ownership rights that predate the city and thus cannot be pushed out to make room for new condos.  It’s so India to have a humble fishing village in the middle of one of the most expensive and high demand neighborhoods in the world!  This is why I love India, I never know what is going to be right around the corner and I’m in a constant state of amazement as a result.  Thank you to my amazing family in Mumbai for showing us such a wonderful time!

Tips for photographers: Stay ready to shoot and don’t be lazy! Some of the best photos are made in a matter of a moment.  Part of the reason I only took my Sony A7 to India and not my big heavy Canon 5D Mark III, is so I could always have my camera with me without it being too cumbersome or conspicuous for travel and street photography.  On this night our family threw a fabulous dinner party so I didn’t do too much photography, I was busy eating and drinking.  But when we went up to the roof for a drink the view overwhelmed my laziness and I went downstairs and grabbed my camera bag.  I didn’t have a tripod so I propped the camera on the ledge of the roof using the camera strap under the camera to level it out and get the angles I wanted.  I knew the wide angle shot with the fishing village in the foreground was going to be my favorite, but I had the 135mm on and made a quick image with it (the bottom photo) before switching to the 35mm for the top photo.  Both of the exposures are 30 seconds taken with the Sony A7 and Canon L lenses.  It took me about 5 minutes of shooting between drinks to make these two photos.  I am always amazed at how quickly beautiful photos are made compared to how long it takes to find them sometimes.  The afternoon these photos were taken we flew back to Mumbai from Goa.  I thought Goa would be a very inspiring place for photography, but it turned out that Bandra would steal the show.

I love Billings MT, the city we live in, but I don’t think there is any better way to pass the time than travel.  Everywhere I travel, whether I like the place or not, gives me a new perspective.  Sometimes that new perspective is not much different than my normal perspective.  But there is no doubt in my mind that India will always give me a wildly different perspective than the one I am used to.  I can’t wait to go back soon.  http://portraits.paulbellinger.com

Monday, January 19, 2015

MONTANA WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – FASHION EDITORIAL FOR MONTANA BRIDE MAGAZINE

I am very pleased to announce the release of the latest issue of Montana Bride magazine!  This issue includes the fashion editorial that I photographed featuring an exclusive look at a few Spring/Summer 2015 wedding dresses from some of the top bridal fashion designers.  Major thanks to Katalin Green for her styling expertise and for getting us an early look at these beautiful dresses!  As usual, Sydney Ross created the perfect hair and makeup looks.  Thank you to everyone who helped pull off such an awesome shoot in Billings Montana!  I will be sharing more photos from this shoot soon, but for now go check out these two photos that are published in the magazine.  Follow Montana Bride on facebook to discover all of the places you can find a print copy of the magazine, or check out the online version here.

Photographer: Paul Bellinger
Styling: Katalin Green
Hair and makeup: Sydney Ross
Models: Arley Knerr and Braydon Sinclair
Dress: Top, ti adora by Alvina Valenta; Bottom, Theia
Hairpiece: Paris by Debra Moreland
Bowtie: Hitched Bowties
Suspenders: Jess Leather
Wedding band: Montague’s Jewelers 
Men’s Clothing: Jim’s Formal Wear
Stylist assistant: Brett Conner
Photo assistant: Zak Jokela
Location: Top, Billings Open Studio; Bottom, Paul Bellinger Studio

Tips for brides: Go follow Montana Bride on facebook and the publisher on instagram: @katalingreen.  You’ll find daily wedding inspiration from the best wedding vendors in Montana.  Be sure to find a print copy of the magazine too because besides all of the beautiful photos and ideas for your wedding, it also has helpful timeline and budgeting checklists to keep you organized. 

Tips for photographers: The top photo is lit with natural light from the window in the background and a 4x8’ white reflector in front of the models and out of frame to the camera right, bouncing the window light back onto the models.  You can see the catchlight from the reflector in their eyes.  The second photo is lit with a single beauty dish centered a few feet in front of the models and about a foot above their heads.  Again the catchlight in Braydon’s eyes gives away the placement of the light.  

I love being a Montana wedding photographer and doing shoots like these with the amazing level of talent that is available in Montana!  We’re going to keep raising the bar on what people can expect from Montana!  www.paulbellinger.com

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

MONTANA WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – TIPS FOR BRIDES: WHAT IS A SECOND SHOOTER AND WHY DO YOU NEED ONE?

If you’re in the market for a wedding photographer, you’re probably going to come across this term “second shooter.”  A second shooter is a second photographer that will be present on your wedding day to help cover the event and assist the main shooter you hire as your wedding photographer.  Most professional wedding photographers offer a second shooter and they are very popular among brides these days, but for brides on a budget there is always some temptation in cutting the second shooter from the wedding budget.  Hopefully this blog will dissuade the discerning bride from doing so.

What does a second shooter do?  When your wedding photographer brings a second photographer to your wedding, you will see the second shooter doing everything from carrying bags and getting coffee for the bridesmaids, to making family portraits and shooting candids on the dance floor.  Sometimes they will be backing up the main shooter during key moments such as the processional and recessional, sometimes they’ll be shooting the same thing as the main photographer but from a different angle, such as the ceremony and the kiss, and often second shooters will take on their own assignments throughout the day, such as shooting the cake or décor on their own or making a portrait of each person in the bridal party while the main photographer is shooting the bride and groom alone.

Why is a second shooter important?  A second shooter is integral to the way that I shoot weddings and I highly recommend that every bride hire a wedding photographer with a second shooter.  The second shooter provides backups and duplicates of the most crucial moments of the day, so you have peace of mind that nothing important will be lost due to an accident or bad memory card.  The second shooter also frees up a lot of time so that your main shooter can focus on getting the shots you want the most, such as the creative portraits of the bride and groom.  Your photographers can split up for bridesmaid and groomsmen portraits, and one can photograph the bride’s details such as the ring and dress, while the other shoots the cake and décor.  In doing so, you’ll be sure to have both on hand for the key moments and during the high pressure times such as family portraits and time sensitive times like the creative portraits of the bride and groom alone when all of the wedding guests are patiently waiting for the bride and groom to return and get the party started.  Lastly, second shooters bring their own creative eye to the day and brainstorm some amazing ideas on their own.  Put them with a good main shooter and you’ve got yourself a recipe for successful wedding photos on your big day.

What questions do I need to ask about a second shooter?  First, make sure that any wedding photographer you consider offers a second shooter.  A small handful do not, and if you are considering them you’ll want to be extra careful in reviewing full weddings from them so that you can make sure they aren’t missing key moments, or running out of time for creative portraits.  Second, ask a potential wedding photographer who they use as their second shooter.  I personally use only professional experienced wedding photographers who regularly shoot weddings on their own so that I know they can handle the pressure of a wedding day should something happen to me.  Third, ask how the photographer utilizes a second shooter on the wedding day.  Do they split up throughout the day?  Is the second shooter more of an assistant or a full time shooter?  You want to make sure your potential wedding photographer knows how to make the most of their second shooter if it’s something you’re going to invest in.  In my business second shooters are hired primarily to shoot; they are professional photographers and I want them shooting all day.  I hire a separate assistant to assist the second shooter and myself so that the second shooter is doing minimal assistance work and both of us can be focused on photography all day long.

This blog is part of my on-going series on how to choose a wedding photographer.  I wanted to provide brides with a serious educational resource they can consult before jumping into the wedding photography market.  Last year I wrote 5 tips for hiring your wedding photographer, with the first tip here.  There are lots of other tips for brides scattered throughout my blog and if you scroll down you can search for “tips for brides” or click the “tips for brides” link in the word cloud below, or simply click here.

I am a Montana wedding photographer located in Billings MT.  I’m in love with Montana but available for any wedding destination in the world.  www.paulbellinger.com

Monday, January 12, 2015

BILLINGS MT PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER – A PORTRAIT FROM INDIA

This is one of the most powerful portraits I’ve ever made and it happened in less than a minute.  Rashid is a driver in my wife’s hometown of Hazaribagh in Jharkhand India.  Rashid has taught three generations of my wife’s family how to drive and he’s still driving for the family after all these years.  My wife’s family is Hindu and Rashid is Muslim, but I would have never known Rashid is Muslim until I tried to touch his feet, a common Hindu sign of respect for elders.  But Muslims don’t touch feet, they hug, so Rashid stopped me and gave me a big hug instead. 

All of this came after the previous night when I gifted Rashid an 8x12” print of this portrait that I made a few days before.  I knew I wanted to make a portrait of Rashid the moment I saw him again (we met on my two previous trips as well).  But the laziness of Hazaribagh set in on me and I almost didn’t make his portrait at all.  I was lazing around the front porch reading magazines and drinking tea, as I did most days in Hazaribagh, and like most days, Rashid was there to drive us anywhere we’d like to go.  He was excited about driving us, but we were more interested in soaking up the sun on the front porch.  Each day after he’d do everything he possibly could to keep from being bored crazy, he’d find me and point to the car and signal with his thumbs “let’s go.”  Most of the time we had nowhere to go and everyone was content to sit in the sun and drink tea instead.  But one of those times I said I’d rather make his portrait instead and signaled for Rashid to pose for me in front of a white wall in the direct sunlight.  He went along, gave me his standing blank facial expression and we made this photo in less than a minute.  That was it.  A few days later I converted the photo to black and white and made the print for Rashid.  He was very happy to have it, as I don’t think he ever expected to see himself in that big of a print.  He drove us all around Hazaribagh and Jharkhand and he was always happy on the road.  Thank you Rashid, I really enjoyed rolling with you!   

My wife and I just returned from an amazing trip to India, with my parents and little sister joining us for the adventure.  It was my third trip to India, so I thought I knew what I was in for, but there is really nothing that can prepare you for 17 days in India.  India is so much different than the US!  I don’t think it will ever become “normal” for me, and that’s a good thing.  It helps that India is huge and on each trip we visit at least one new area.  I will probably never have the pleasure of visiting every corner of the country, but I’ll try!  I’m going to post a few more blogs about my experiences in India over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for more.

Tips for photographers:
Learn to see the light on your own.  You do not need someone to show you a lighting diagram or detail their lighting technique if you can see the light on your own.  So as usual, I’ll tell you how this photo was lit and how you can see the light for yourself.  This photo is lit with direct sunlight and you can see that the sunlight was coming from behind me and camera left based on the shadow under Rashid’s nose, and behind his head on the wall.  How would you know this is direct sunlight?  Well you can’t be sure it’s sunlight, but you do know from the shadow under Rashid’s nose that it’s a small light source due to the hard edge (clearly defined shadow line) and the sun is the most popular hard light source we have around, so it’s a good guess.  Lastly, you can see some reflected sunlight bouncing off of the wall highlighting the left edge of Rashid’s face.  It would be very easy to replicate this lighting in the studio with a single bare strobe on a white wall, perhaps adding in a silver reflector on the shadow side of the face to create the edge highlight we see on Rashid.  The most difficult part of this type of lighting is making sure you get the exposure right by using the spot meter in the camera.  Working in the sunny outdoors with white walls around you can make it very hard to see the screen on your camera, so chimping the screen isn’t going to help you. 

Photographed with the Sony A7 and Zeiss 55mm f/1.8, at f/4, 1/125 of a second, ISO 50.

It is during moments like the one in which this photo was made, that the true power of portrait photography becomes clear to me.  It is very difficult to describe the power of the portrait if you’ve never wielded it.  Consider that in just a brief moment I was able to entertain Rashid, show him a sign of respect, give him the rare privilege of having his portrait made, something that traditionally only the very well off would be accustomed to, and have an overall enjoyable experience getting to know each other.  That’s a powerful moment!  But it would not be enough if it ended there.  I had to make the print for him and deliver it to him in person for the power to be fully revealed.  Chances are good that Rashid has very few, if any photos of himself.  And because it is so rare, chances are good that he’s going to cherish the print I gave him, share it with his family so that they can all enjoy it, and one day pass it on to future generations in his remembrance.  Wow, that is powerful.  That’s why I love being a portrait photographer.  This time when I was in Hazaribagh I got to see a few of the non-family members that I made portraits of the last time I was there, and they all still had their prints I gave them and remembered the experience with me.  I know I’ll never forget the experiences they gave me and I’ll be forever honored.  www.paulbellinger.com www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Sunday, December 28, 2014

MONTANA WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – HAPPY ENGAGEMENT SEASON!

Happy holidays and congrats to everyone out there getting engaged during the holiday season!  Before you know it you’ll be featured in wedding artwork such as this beautiful photo of Anne and Brian at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky Montana.  Now is the time when there is a huge rush on wedding vendors of all types, from venues and photographers to designers and florists.  Many of the best vendors are almost finished booking for 2015 already.  If you’re newly engaged and plan to marry in 2015, it’s time to book your wedding photographer and your venue before it’s too late to secure your dream wedding.  I know the process can be overwhelming, so I took the time last season to write up a five part blog series on how to choose your wedding photographer.  Tip 1 is here: http://blog.paulbellinger.com/2014/03/how-to-choose-your-wedding-photographer_25.html and there are links within to the rest of the tips.  I hope you find them helpful for choosing your wedding photographer and all of your wedding vendors!

I am Billings Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger.  I photograph weddings of all shapes and sizes, from the beaches to the mountains, and every wedding destination in between.  It would be my honor to photograph your wedding.  www.paulbellinger.com

Sunday, December 21, 2014

BILLINGS MONTANA PHOTOGRAPHER – BIG HOMIE FROM THE BLOCK

This is one of my favorite photos of the year, taken while I was on set with Kenneth Jarecke during a corporate shoot in fall 2014.  It is a real honor to be able to spend time with a legendary photographer and learn from his 30+ years of experience at the highest levels of the profession.  Ken has become a great friend and mentor for me over the last year.  He has thoroughly schooled me on a range of photography and non-photography topics and I am eternally grateful for his friendship.  Thanks for everything Ken!

Want some free advice from Ken?  Check out one of my favorite articles that Ken published a couple of years ago.  The first step to getting better is admitting you suck in the first place!  Read the article here.

Tips for photographers:  Find a mentor!  If you want to be great, you have to learn from the greats, plain and simple.  You cannot become great all by yourself, and more than likely, a go it alone attitude will be a detriment to realizing your potential.  Admit that there are people out there who have a lot more wisdom than you do, and get hungry for that wisdom.  Once you find a mentor, listen to them!  I had a difficult experience recently with a corporate client and Ken predicted their every move and gave me perfect advice at every turn.  If I would have listened to him 100% instead of 90% I could have avoided some major headaches right from the start.  Trust me, investing in a mentor is worth so much more than any gear or online tutorial you can buy.  So stop browsing for gear and start looking for a mentor who can help you reach the next level.

I am Billings MT photographer Paul Bellinger and I make pictures.  I specialize in Montana weddings and contemporary portraiture.  My portrait studio is located in downtown Billings MT and I am available for any wedding destination or portrait commission worldwide.  www.paulbellinger.com  www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Saturday, December 20, 2014

BILLINGS MT CORPORATE HEADSHOT PHOTOGRAPHER

I love making my bros look good in their corporate headshots and professional portraits.  In the world of photography it seems like guys get the short end of the stick, and are rarely treated to a professional portrait session unless their wife or mom is dragging them along.  But dudes need great portraits too!  I’m glad Jerimiah came to me for his corporate headshot and we also made a nice fashion style portrait as well because he’s always looking stylish.  Thanks for coming to Paul Bellinger Photography Jerimiah!

Why get a professional portrait or corporate headshot?  A good portrait is something that is becoming rare in the age of the cell phone selfie.  But the corporate world still understands that there is no substitute for a professional corporate headshot to help you stand out from the crowd.  The right portrait can convey the exact message you want to send to your potential clients, before they ever meet you in person.  A portrait can make you look powerful, confident, nice, vulnerable, approachable, trustworthy, etc.  What type of message do you want to send your future clients?

Tips for photographers:
Wow, these are two dramatically different photos.  The first photo is lit with natural light from a single source, a window that Jeremiah is facing, while standing in front of 4’x8’ piece of Styrofoam painted green.  I have black curtains on my windows and I can control the size and height of the window light with the help of a clamp or two.  In this case I’ve opened the curtains about a two feet or so and clamped at the bottom creating a V-shaped light that is wider at the top.  I am standing just to the right of the window so the light has a slight direction to it.  I wouldn’t really call this first photo a corporate headshot, it’s a portrait and not very corporate, but I really like it and it would be suitable as a corporate professional photo for someone that is looking to stand out from the crowd.

The second photo is a much more traditional corporate headshot lit with four strobes, although a nearly identical look can be achieved with three strobes.  The main light is from two light sources, a beauty dish and a four-foot softbox about a foot or two above head height and a few feet camera left (you can see them clearly in the catchlights in his eyes), creating the lighting pattern on his face.  I wanted what is known as “short lighting” with the strong shadow to create the slimming and chiseling effect that you get from side lighting (read about broad and short lighting here).  The beauty dish gives great directionality but can be a little harsh, so I often like to soften it up with a big softbox or umbrella.  The other two lights are very straightforward, a smaller 12 inch beauty dish behind him and camera right above head height creates the kicker highlight you see on his hair, ear and neck.  Lastly there is a bare strobe with circular reflector behind Jerimiah lighting up the background.  This is a very traditional corporate headshot lighting technique although I made it a little edgier with the directional main light and “short lighting” on his face.

Billings MT portrait photographer Paul Bellinger makes modern, stylish portraits at his studio in downtown Billings Montana and on location anywhere in the world.  Paul specializes in making magazine quality fashion and corporate portraits.  For a portrait or corporate headshot in Billings Montana, please visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BILLINGS MONTANA WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER – MONTANA BRIDE FASHION SNEAK PEEK!

Montana, get ready for some wedding fashion!  I recently photographed an amazing fashion editorial with Montana Bride magazine, featuring an exclusive look at some jaw dropping S/S 2015 wedding dresses that are straight off of the fall runways.  Check out the delicate details on this elegant bohemian wedding dress, Ti Adora by Alvina Valenta. We brought together an outstanding team, with styling by Katalin Green, who hooked us up with the most stunning wedding dresses that aren’t even available until spring 2015, hair and makeup by the wonderful Sydney Ross, a gifted pair of models and assistants, and so much more.  Look for the spread in Montana Bride’s 2015 issue.

Photographer: Paul Bellinger
Styling: Katalin Green
Hair and makeup: Sydney Ross
Models: Arley Knerr and Braydon Sinclair
Dress: ti adora by Alvina Valenta
Bowtie: Hitched Bowties
Suspenders: Jess Leather
Wedding band: Montague’s Jewelers 
Men’s Clothing: Jim’s Formal Wear
Stylist assistant: Brett Conner
Photo assistant: Zak Jokela
Location: Billings Open Studio

It is awesome to be a Billings Montana Wedding photographer and make amazing work with talented people such as those listed above and so many more each year.  Their talents have rubbed off on me and have made me a better photographer in the process.  I will bring those talents with me forever and that is a wonderful gift.  Thank you to everyone who has rubbed off on me this year!  www.paulbellinger.com